The Inexplicable Explained

I keep thinking about that comment I made on my post this morning about how I “inexplicably” moved to California in 1979.

It’s not like I woke up in California and couldn’t explain how I’d gotten there. What was inexplicable is why I had thought it was a good idea to go there in the first place.

I moved there because I was in love with a  girl who lived there. And she kept calling me long-distance , which was expensive back then, saying, “come on, come on, come out here!” So I finally hopped a Greyhound bus and went.

It was the worst possible idea. I had been in love with her since I was 15 and she was 16. She was living briefly in Ohio when we met. She was my first real girlfriend. The first girl I had sex with, and I was crazy about her. I was very, very attached to her, and I would do anything she said.

But, truly, she was nothing but trouble and full of bad ideas, and every single solitary time we did one of her bad ideas, we got caught. And for some reason, her stepdad hated me and thought that I was instigating everything.

And oddly enough, there was another older girl that I was very close with, but not in love with, who also had all sorts of bad ideas that I would go along with. And with her, we actually got arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs and a cruiser. When her father came to the precinct to get her, the only thing keeping him from killing me was the fact that we were, in fact, in a police station.

For some reason, he also really hated me and thought that everything his daughter did was my fault.

But that first girl, the one I was in love with and eventually moved to California for – she persuaded me to steal a car with her.  I didn’t care about cars, I didn’t know how to drive yet, I thought it was a dumb idea to steal a car, but we did it anyway and boy did we get caught. By the Sheriff. And I already had that arrest, mentioned above, on my record so I was looking at Grand Theft Auto and a couple years in Reform School.

I wrote on the blog once before about how it feels when a Sheriff, at 3 o’clock in the morning, all dressed in black, with his badge, and those guns in his holster, says, “Girls, you’re in big trouble”  — it really resonates. For a lifetime.

Thank God the man who owned the car dropped the charges. But my girlfriend’s stepdad was so angry, he had her sent to a boarding school clear across the country so that she and I could not ever get up to anything crazy again.

So when she persuaded me to move to California, even though I was 19 already and she was 20, I should have known better. I should have known it would be a fiasco from the start. And it was. She met me at the bus station with her new boyfriend. Her fucking boyfriend. And she said, “This is Ray. I’ve told him all about you and I’ve assured him that it’s over between us.”

Wow. I will never forget that moment, those words. They also resonated for a lifetime.

It had taken 5 days to get to California from Ohio in February – the dead of winter, where a lot of roads out West were impassable. I had run completely out of money halfway there and I was starving.

Ray was really nice to me, though. Extremely kind and cordial. He was a lot older than us and he knew I was in love with his girlfriend and that she had lured me into some sort of wild goose chase. He let me stay there  with them for 2 weeks, until I decided that I wasn’t gonna stay In California, after all.

So that was my inexplicable California trip. My New York City trip in 1980 was just so much better. I stayed in NYC almost 30 years.

But I think a whole chapter of my memoir, Dirty Girl Beautiful Mind, will be devoted to the crazy girls I was in love with in my teens, and why on earth everybody’s fathers were always thinking that everything was my fault. I think they were projecting, you know? Something, like, Wow, I hope I don’t meet that girl in 10 years because she’s gonna be nothing but trouble for me. Perhaps it’s best if we just squash her right now.

But I didn’t want to be squashed. A conundrum, indeed.

Man, those fathers made my life so difficult.

Okay, maybe I was never THIS angelic…

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